Five Myths about the International Baccalaureate Part 2 of 2
A version of this article was published by CACE in October 2016. Read Part 1 here.
Myth #4: IB is only for students.
While all students clearly benefit from an IB education, there is another group that value the opportunity to be involved – the teachers. IB offers quality professional development, and many teachers believe it transforms their pedagogical skills. There are few, if any, other programs that get full support and backing from all teachers. Authorization of an IB programme is also conditional on all teachers supporting IB through training and its development in the school. “The IB supports schools and teachers to provide a rigorous, high-quality education, offering professional development that improves pedagogy and leadership.”1
Collaboration is another important element for IB teachers. “A collaborative culture is at the core of many IB World Schools. It’s not just about students working together, fostering a community of experience and learning, but also includes teachers and staff. Research and case studies suggest that by forming a network of resources, support, and guidance, teachers feel more comfortable in their roles, which subsequently has a positive effect on students.”2
Myth #5: IB is not a good fit for Christian schools.
There are only a few Christian schools offering IB programmes, probably because of some of the myths above, and many Christian schools believe it is inconsistent with a Christian worldview. However, there have been recent changes in IB to be more inclusive with faith-based schools. Also, faith-based schools need to understand how IB can better prepare their students for the future, and the IB approaches to learning need not be inconsistent with the school’s core purpose and values. “The IB learner profile describes a broad range of human capacities and responsibilities that go beyond academic success and is considered the core of all IB programmes.”3 The IB learner profile represents 10 attributes valued by IB World Schools. It is believed these attributes, and others like them, can help individuals and groups become responsible members of local, national and global communities.4 One of the attributes is ‘risk-takers’, and schools can now replace this attribute with ‘courageous’, which might better reflect the Christian perspective, and schools can also add other attributes which describe learners in the school. Also, another attribute called ‘balanced’ gives schools the opportunity to add the word ‘spiritual’ to the description of this attribute: “We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives— intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual—to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.” Some Christian schools offering IB programmes also interpret learner profile attributes through a Christian perspective. For example, the ‘Inquirers’ attribute is described by IB as follows: We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.5 White Rock Christian Academy has provided a Christian perspective of this attribute as follows: We distinguish and recognize truth based on Biblical principles and are acquiring wisdom and discernment to recognize and understand the purpose and inherent order that God created in this world. Through exploring and discovering God’s created world, we find ourselves renewed and refreshed.
Unique to IB is its educational philosophy of international-mindedness. “An IB education creates learning communities in which students can increase their understanding of language and culture, developing as successful communicators with the skills needed for intercultural dialogue and global engagement. Students, teachers, and leaders in the IB school communities have a range of perspectives, values, and traditions. The concept of international-mindedness builds on these diverse perspectives to generate a sense of common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet.”6 IB has always supported service learning and built the concept into all of its programmes, and Christian schools can use IB’s service learning as a means of further developing its faith-based mission in providing a deeper understanding.
Myths are ideas widely held but can be false or a misinterpretation. It is unfortunate IB is sometimes seen as an educational program appropriate for only a few members of a school community. IB has always represented ‘best practice’ in teaching and learning, and many school systems are now recognizing and being influenced by the importance of teaching inquiry, competencies over content, global understanding, and helping to prepare students for an ever-changing future in both local and global communities.
“The PYP is a comprehensive framework of best practices that allows staff to align under a shared and compelling vision.” —Gerry Goertzen, WRCA Junior School Principal
“The learner profile is one of the strongest ways to bring in your Christian faith.” —Brenda Breuls, WRCA Kindergarten teacher
“The PYP units of inquiry structures learning.” —Vanessa Toney, WRCA PYP Coordinator
“The MYP encourages students to do quality inquiry.” —Daniel Kriese, WRCA MYP teacher
“ATL (Approaches to Learning) skills are the constants in education. ATL skills are transdisciplinary, and you teach students to be learners.” —Natalie Poirier, WRCA MYP Coordinator
“The value of the MYP is teaching ATL (Approaches to Learning) skills. It helps students to be successful lifelong learners.” —Katy Peters, WRCA MYP teacher
“The real value of the MYP is that students learn how to learn.” —Joel Slofstra, WRCA Senior School Principal
The IB learner profile.
The IB learner profile.